On July 13th, Austrian “Pastafarian” Niko Alm won* the right to don a colander on his head for his driver’s license photo in the name of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Alm first applied for the license three years ago, having read that religious headgear was allowed in government identification photos. Austrian authorities sought a mental health check for Alm, who got psychologically screened. It was concluded that the Pastafarian would be allowed to wear the sieve. Yes, really.
So, umm, is this church a joke?
That was my Google search on the matter, which brought up the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s website. The group states repeatedly that they are not a joke or drawn-out satire, but a legit group built on the rejection of dogma. As the site says,
“…we are not anti-religion, we are anti- crazy nonsense done in the name of religion. There is a big difference. Our ideal is to scrutinize ideas and actions but ignore general labels.”
Through lighthearted campaigns, the group questions the validity of blind acceptance of religious doctrine. The site has scores of downloadable leaflets and flyers, including a pretty funny “Put the Spaghetti Back in the Holidays” December leaflet push. Though the church may not have been formed as a joke, there are clearly some comedians working within the parish.
Recently, they have spoken against taught creationism in American schools by writing an open letter to the Kansas School board, requesting that the Pastafarian version of intelligent design be included in science curriculums. The group recently learned that Kentucky allocates a portion of state funds for religious-affiliated, for-profit groups. In response, the church put out a submissions call for an FSM theme park. Suggested features are a beer volcano and pirate ship.
The separation of church and state, especially in the US, seems to be a focal issue for the Church of Flying Spaghetti. So was Niko Alm, a self-described atheist, making a tongue-in-cheek point about religious apparel? Was he making a statement about government allowances?
It seems Pastafarians aren’t ones to overthink the point. As one commenter wrote on the site, “this does not herald the second coming, it heralds the second HELPING!”
Damnit, I spent ages trying to think of a spaghetti pun that good.
* Story via www.bbc.co.uk